Mayor Subrata Mukherjee’s Rs 20-crore proposal for Calcutta Gate, on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass opposite Science City, is under fire from both the government and his Trinamul Congress. “The proposal is aimless in conception and goes against the austerity measures being pursued by the state government,” asserted municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya. He also criticised the mayor’s “lack of perception” in selecting the site for the proposed gateway to the city.
Minister Bhattacharya says the gateway will be shifted somewhere on the Kona Expressway after the Durgapur Expressway is commissioned off the Vivekananda bridge.
Countering Bhattacharya’s argument, mayor Mukherjee asserted: “Every major city in the world is known by a special architectural monument. Calcutta lacks any such symbol. We often project Victoria Memorial as the symbol of Calcutta, but that was built to glorify British monarchy in a colony. My Calcutta Gate will be the city’s symbol and a salute to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC).”
However, his own party colleagues and many of his mayoral council members are up in arms against the proposed move. Most of the 10 mayoral council members feel this huge expenditure on a showpiece without purpose will send wrong signals to the people, who are not getting adequate civic amenities.
Mayoral council members Anup Chatterjee and Javed Ahmed Khan were more vocal. “We fail to understand what purpose the gate will serve. The expenditure of Rs 20 crore is no joke, considering the city’s roads go without a fresh coat of tar for want of funds. We believe citizens will benefit more if that sum of Rs 20 crore is used to repair and desilt the underground brick sewers or to revamp the slums,” they complained.
Colleague Pradip Ghosh pointed out that the mayor had failed to solve even the basic civic problems. “So, he has no right to waste time and taxpayers’ money on a useless project.” Congress leader of the Opposition Sailen Dasgupta quipped: “The gate will, in fact, immortalise the misrule of the Trinamul civic board.” CPM leader Sudhanshu Sil called it a pauper’s dream.
However, Mukherjee has two mayoral council members, Rajib Deb and Sovan Chatterjee, by his side. “The 300-foot Calcutta Gate will highlight the city’s prestige. The expense is immaterial. The amount can be realised by commercial lease of some portions later,” suggested Chatterjee.